TUC Disabled Workers Conference 2024

Gareth Spencer, Special Projects Organiser · 3 June 2024

Prospect reps headed to a rather damp and windy Liverpool for this year’s TUC Disabled Workers Conference. Despite the weather, the mood amongst the delegates was upbeat following the successful campaign to stop railway ticket office closures and the confirmation of the General Election. Our delegation was made up of reps covering our Defence, Energy & Public sectors. The theme of this year’s conference was ‘nothing about us without us’ – emphasising the need to centre disabled workers in union activity.

Prospect’s motion (motion #7) on reasonable adjustment policies was well supported by a number of unions including the RMT, CWU, Unison, NEU and NAHT. The motion highlights the need for improved training and implementation at a managerial level, particularly in ensuring that the difference between reasonable adjustments and flexible working is better understood. There was agreement that the TUC and its constituent unions should lead the way by sharing their own policies as best practice. The motion was carried unanimously.

Photo of Prospect's delegation to TUC Disabled Workers Conference 2024

Prospect’s delegation to TUC Disabled Workers Conference 2024

Other motions covered topics such as the impact of AI on disabled workers, reform of the benefits system, accessible rail transport, work capability assessments, and long covid. Panel discussions on the social model of disability and how to ensure disabled people thrive under a new government, were well attended and gave the opportunity for a wide range of questions and comments from the conference floor. Amy Bishop, Prospect rep at AWE branch, was on the opening panel discussing the importance of the social model and spoke about how unions have embraced this way of thinking as well as efforts to promote disability pride.

A series of emergency motions were heard on the recent report by the UN Committee on the Rights of Disabled People (UNCRDP) about the current treatment of disabled people in the UK. The government neglected to send a minister to meet with the committee to respond to questions on disabled poverty, increasing numbers of suicides and the lack of adequate standards of living.

Following the announcement of the General Election, it was interesting to hear from Vicky Foxcroft, Labour Shadow Minister for Disabled People, about how a Labour government will legislate to change things for disabled workers. Whilst on Sunday morning, Paul Nowak, General Secretary of the TUC, addressed the conference to outline how the union movement will work to ensure that the Labour party delivers for workers if elected.

Our delegation leader, Amy, was successfully elected to the TUC Disabled Workers Committee for 2024/25. Unite’s motion (motion #17) on fair Personal Independence Payments (PIP) was chosen to go forward to this year’s Congress in Brighton this September.